HONOLULU (AP) — A Marine stationed in Hawaii faces a military hearing this week after officials say he tried to enter an Air Force base while off-duty and heavily armed in his home state of Nebraska. Pfc. Ali Al-kazahg, 22, is in custody in Hawaii on allegations that he tried to enter Offutt Air Force Base with two semi-automatic rifles, a pistol, a silencer, a bump stock, a vest with body armor and a case of ammunition while on leave. His arrest came a week after he was listed on a law enforcement alert for making threats, The Omaha World-Herald reported. A preliminary military court hearing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii is scheduled for Wednesday. A hearings officer is expected to recommend whether
The facts.Developed by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet, which first flew in 1995, is a twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F twin-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet.The Hornet and Super Hornet share many characteristics, including avionics, ejection seats, radar, armament, mission computer software, and maintenance/operating procedures. The Super Hornet is largely a new aircraft at about 20% larger, 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) heavier empty weight, and 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) heavier maximum weight than the Legacy Hornet. The Super Hornet carries 33% more internal fuel, increasing mission range by 41% and endurance by 50% over the Legacy Hornet.As the Super Hornet is significantly heavier than the Legacy Hornet, the catapult and arresting systems must be set differently. To aid safe flight operations and prevent confusion in radio calls, the Super Hornet is informally referred to as the “Rhino” to distinguish it from earlier Hornets. (The “Rhino” nickname was previously applied to the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, which was retired from the fleet in 1987).Furthermore the Super Hornet, unlike the Legacy Hornet, is designed to be equipped with an aerial refueling system (ARS) or “buddy store” for the refueling of other aircraft, filling the tactical airborne tanker role the U.S. Navy had lost with the retirement of the KA-6D Intruder and Lockheed S-3B Viking tankers.This first appeared in Aviation Geek Club here.
For the 16th consecutive year, Texas Roadhouse restaurants are hosting a motorcycle ride to benefit Homes for Our Troops. There will be multiple rides nationwide including one in Chesterfield and Ft. Gratiot. Organizers expect more than 8,000 riders to participate nationwide and would like to raise $300,000. Over the last 15 years, Texas Roadhouse has raised more than $1 million for Homes for Our Troops. At the Texas Roadhouse in Chesterfield on Sunday, about 200 bikers from metro Detroit clubs gathered for food, fellowship and fundraising. "I was a Gulf War veteran from Desert Storm, Desert Shield in the U.S. Army," says Dwayne Adkins, member of the Enforcers Motorcycle Club. Adkins made it
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) � Drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia's sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a "limited fire" in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry. The attack on the Shaybah oil field, which produces some 1 million barrels of crude oil a day near the kingdom's border with the United Arab Emirates, again shows the reach of the Houthis' drone program. Shaybah sits some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory, underscoring the rebels' ability to now strike at both nations, which are mired in Yemen's yearslong war. The drone assault also
TEL AVIV, Israel – For decades, Israel's National Center for Forensic Medicine has tested skeletal remains secreted across its northern border, checking whether the DNA matched that of Israeli soldiers missing behind enemy lines in Lebanon or Syria. "From time to time they'd bring the samples," said Chen Kugel, the head of the forensics center. "It was always: maybe this time, maybe this time, maybe this time." There was never a match. Then, this year, that changed. Residents of the camp had grown up hearing rumors that the bodies of missing Israeli soldiers were hidden among the tombstones, but the exact whereabouts were held secret. Digging began in the cemetery as early as 2013, residents
DE PERE, Wi. (WBAY) - Rides, good food, and entertainment all help to make a county fair a success. Sunday at the Brown County Fair, there was some added patriotism, too. Each year the Brown County Fair has a veterans' appreciation day. “It's just our way of saying thank you,” said Brown Co. Supervisor Bernie Erickson. Erickson says they always try to put a special focus on a particular group. This year, that focus was on non-combat or peacetime veterans. Each receiving special dog tags and certificates for their service. “They were just as important,” said Erickson. “They may have been in support back in the states or another country. There may not have been any combat going on, but they were
PROFESSIONAL ARMIES often toil in obscurity until they are needed. Absent a sense of external threat, militaries are often unappreciated and lack constituencies of their own. These professional armies, as is the case in most European and North American countries, are generally small, have little lobbying power and few friends in high places. They are vulnerable. But they are available for what often appears to be whatever task comes up. Unless they are carrying out an overseas contingency operation or domestic deployment, the perception on the part of the public is that the armed forces are not truly being fully utilized—and are thus available for these tasks.Nearly every nation worldwide has some experience with their armed forces in a domestic capacity. Some countries, such as China, have armies that are vertically and horizontally integrated into the economy, often running major business enterprises. Other countries take the opposite view; Germany, for instance, has long viewed the employment of the Bundeswehr on German soil as anathema.Of course, the raison d’être of any national armed force is to defend the state and carry out homeland defense. But armies are often asked to perform more mundane tasks, such as trash collection and firefighting, often to the detriment of their readiness to carry out their primary function. While there are benefits to having military forces engaged in civil support tasks, there are also opportunity costs involved. Soldiers engaged in these tasks often cannot be readily redeployed. They cannot be in two places at one time, and require significant amounts of time to extricate themselves from one civil support task in order to carry out another. Moreover, contemporary professional soldiers are expensive, particularly when compared to ordinary conscript soldiers. Using highly-trained fighters for tasks such as static guard duty or trash collection seems like a rather inefficient use of manpower.Both North American and European states have a rich history of employing military forces in domestic contingencies. Of course, every country has its own unique national security organizational structure, as well as traditions and strategies. These are based on unique perceptions of the threats and challenges to their own domestic security. Germany takes a fundamentally different approach to this issue than France, just as Russia takes a different approach than China. Even within North America, the differences between Mexico and the United States on the subject of military cooperation with civilian law enforcement agencies are striking: American soldiers are prohibited by law from performing law enforcement functions, while Mexico’s armed forces have been deployed to combat the threat posed by drug cartels and other local criminal organizations.Due largely to historical contexts, the European tradition is markedly different from that of the United States. The United States, with its experiences in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, has been traditionally reluctant to employ soldiers domestically, though that is clearly changing. And the unique structure of the American armed forces, with both professional Federal and National Guard troops, has resulted in a bifurcated experience. The National Guard has often been assigned to carry out civil security tasks, while their active-duty brethren are restricted by law since 1878 from carrying out similar duties, particularly those involving law enforcement. In this regard, Canada also has a much more limited experience.On the other hand, the European tradition of employing armed forces domestically is well established. European militaries have acted with great frequency in a broad range of functions in response to domestic crises and other events when called upon by national authorities. Whether the requirement is securing borders, supporting law enforcement authorities or providing disaster relief, European armies have responded and acquitted themselves well in nearly all instances. In doing so, they have garnered significant levels of public support in nearly all European states; indeed, even in those states that have always had significant concerns about soldiers on their streets have become largely reconciled to seeing them there.IN THE domestic context, there are essentially two mission sets: homeland defense and civil support. Homeland defense is the traditional task of defending the population, infrastructure and sovereignty of a nation from foreign threats. This may involve such tasks as border defense (as differentiated from border security), air defense and defense of maritime approaches.Of course, most modern military forces in Europe were structured for the Cold War mission of defending the European homeland in the event of an attack by the Warsaw Pact—their legacy organizational structure and equipment are a testament to this. For example, Germany had a large number of armored and reserve forces; both have nearly disappeared in the post-Cold War period. What forces remain have often been restructured, for the most part, for deployments abroad in peace support operations roles. Similarly, most European countries have active force establishments that are but a fraction of their Cold War strength. This begs the question of whether homeland defense is still a core mission. And if so, can European armed forces actually carry it out if directed to? For while many European countries still retain a relatively large number of soldiers on the books, they are not necessarily organized, configured, trained and equipped for modern, conventional, high-intensity operations.In addition to homeland defense, military forces on both sides of the Atlantic have always been heavily involved in civil support. Civil support duties are those undertaken to buttress civil authority, with responsibility and overall command remaining with that civil officialdom. Examples include assistance to local authorities in the event of disasters, both natural and otherwise, as well as support to law enforcement authorities for select tasks. These may involve actions taken by the military to restore law, order and stability in the aftermath of an insurrection or a major catastrophe. Such operations may involve both active and reserve forces as well as some specialized capabilities, such as airborne radar for border surveillance. In every event, the key distinguisher is that civilians remain in control of the operation.Some observers refer to this differentiation of roles in a domestic context as the tension between traditional and non-traditional roles. Inherent in this taxonomy is the concept that homeland defense is the traditional role of the armed forces and all other undertakings are non-traditional in nature. However, this bifurcation fails to recognize that armed forces have been employed in many domestic roles, particularly domestic security roles, for centuries. The rise of professionalized armed forces is a fairly recent phenomenon which drew upon the domestic security activities that armed forces have long played. For example, many of today’s militarized police forces, such as the French National Gendarmerie, originated from the personal armed forces of a nation’s ruler, and spent decades as a part of their respective nations’ armed forces, only having returned to their largely law enforcement role in the postwar era.Indeed, the range of tasks for which armed forces may expect to be called into action has long been broad and continues to expand. In many instances, military forces have become a resource of choice for many political leaders who are faced with intractable (often fiscal) problems, including many not related to national security or humanitarian relief.Clearly, there are civil security tasks that armies can and must perform. The intent here is focused on identifying those domestic roles and tasks which are inherent to national armed forces, those that armed forces may be called on to support and those that are candidates for inclusion in this growing list, with particular emphasis on the role of armed forces in providing cybersecurity. But it is worth asking what tasks the military should not perform as well. There are tasks for which military forces, for a variety of reasons, are not suitable. This is not to say that armed forces are incapable of performing them, merely that they are not consistent with what we might consider to be acceptable civil support tasks. Are there red lines beyond which armed forces ought not to tread?In the United States, there appear to be six distinct Defense Support to Civil Authority (DSCA) mission sets for armed forces in civil security. They are:-Defense Support to Law Enforcement-Defense Support for Special Events-Defense Support for Essential Services-Defense Support for Counterinsurgency-Defense Support for Civil Disturbances-Defense Support for Emergencies and Disaster ReliefFor example, providing cybersecurity for other governmental organizations, as well as for private providers of critical infrastructure services, would fit under the category of Defense Support for Essential Services. This mission set includes instances where the military is tasked to provide services which are deemed essential for security or other reasons, such as public health. Examples include the provision of air traffic control services in the event of a strike, or providing sanitary services in the wake of an outbreak of a pandemic disease.Other missions, such as border security, would likely fall under Defense Support to Law Enforcement, as border security remains principally a law enforcement task.LOGICAL, STRAIGHTFORWARD criteria are clearly required to effectively evaluate situations in which the armed forces might be used in domestic contingencies. What considerations ought to be examined in vetting requests for assistance (RFA)? What are the considerations that should be examined in determining whether the military should provide support to civil authority?The first and foremost is legality. Each request should be evaluated in terms of compliance with the existing laws of that state and its international commitments. Is the request, and the manner in which it has been made, compliant with the laws of the land, in particular with the constitution and those laws which have been established to govern the employment of the armed forces? While many states, such as Germany and the United States, have laws restricting the domestic deployment of armed forces, others, notably France, do not have such restrictions. There may also be exceptional events though—such as major catastrophes or outbreaks of highly contagious diseases, resulting in the breakdown of law and order—which may require capabilities that only the military may be able to provide, even if that employment contravenes the legal construct.The second criterion is that of lethality, which considers whether the military may be required, as part of the provision of support, to employ force. The issue of the use of force in domestic contingencies is fraught with danger. Lethality also considers the possibility that some other force—whether it comes from lone wolf attacks, a domestic insurgency or an armed insurrection—may be used against those military forces engaged in DSCA efforts. The potential for the employment of force may require that the military be provided with special equipment and training and be issued appropriate rules of engagement. As a general rule, military forces in support of civil authorities should always seek to avoid the use of deadly force except in extreme situations. Nevertheless, circumstances may require the use of lethal force for the purposes of self-defense or preventing greater harm to the population, as might be the case in an outbreak of a highly contagious and deadly epidemic.Risk is the third criteria governing the employment of armed forces in DSCA operations. While similar to lethality, risk is more concerned with the safety of the soldiers on DSCA missions. In particular, it seeks to evaluate whether there is enhanced risk to the safety and health of those soldiers who, in the process of performing a task, may be exposed to harmful agents, such as biological or chemical toxins, or be required to undertake hazardous acts, such as rescuing civilian personnel or extinguishing large fires. For example, containing a bird flu epidemic may expose troops to the disease; likewise, decontaminating an area with radiation or chemical contamination poses risks to the force given this task.Risk further seeks to determine the long-term physical and psychological effects on the force of carrying out tasks which may be disagreeable, such as the collection and disposition of large numbers of fatal casualties pursuant to a major disaster. An example of this risk is the stabbing of a French soldier that was engaging in anti-terrorist patrols under the French Opération Sentinelle at the Louvre, or the 2017 event in which an inebriated tourist attempted to wrest a submachine gun from an Italian soldier guarding the Spanish embassy in Rome. Putting soldiers on the streets in uniform may provide an increased sense of security, but it also may render them more vulnerable to attack.Readiness is the fourth criterion. Armed forces exist to defend the nation against external threats; to the extent that they are engaged in DSCA tasks, they may not be available to carry out their primary missions of national defense. For those DSCA tasks which have little relationship to military functions, such as, say, trash collection, and which may be of long duration, there may be a degree of erosion of primary military skills, such as tank gunnery or artillery fire support, which will require time, effort and resources to recover. Readiness also seeks to measure the opportunity costs associated with the military’s ability to perform other military and DSCA functions. If the military, or parts of it, is engaged in DSCA tasks, it may not be available to perform other tasks in a reasonable amount of time.The fifth consideration for evaluating an RFA is that of cost. The issue of who pays for the military’s involvement in DSCA functions is of increasing importance. Many DSCA missions and tasks can involve considerable expenditure of resources. For example, if the military provides disaster relief support to civil authorities in the aftermath of a major disaster, this would involve the expenditure of significant amounts of money for supplies and transportation, in addition to the general personnel costs involved. In Europe, these costs are, in some cases, born by the ministry of defense itself; in others, the ministry of defense can expect to be reimbursed for some or all of these costs by the ministry or agency to which assistance is being provided. These considerations should be laid out well in advance of the need for the military’s support. In the United States, the requesting agency is, at least in theory, obligated to reimburse the armed forces for their operations costs.In those instances in which the ministry of defense is expected to pay for the support it provides, this criterion should also include an evaluation of the impact on the appropriations under which the military functions. There may also be circumstances in which the military receives reimbursement for services and materials rendered, which it may use for purposes other than reconstitution of same. In these cases, the military may well choose to use the reimbursement to acquire equipment it lacks or to provide training that is needed.The last criterion is that of appropriateness. This criterion seeks to answer the question of whether it is right, or seen by the public to be right, for the military to carry out a DSCA task. This issue is connected to the larger issue of the image of the armed forces. Appropriateness is also concerned with the question of whether it is in the interest of the ministry of defense to conduct the task. In cases of disaster relief, the military almost always will answer in the affirmative; but there are instances, particularly those involving the potential use of lethal force against citizens, which may be viewed by the military as inappropriate and detrimental to its image. In some instances, there may be a divergence in the image that the soldiers themselves have regarding a task versus what the public sees. For example, the Italian Army’s trash collection efforts in Naples, while less than attractive for professional soldiers, were viewed in a very positive manner by the public.While these six criteria are those which most often govern the military’s evaluation of an RFA, there may be others, such as the consideration of whether the military has the capacity, in terms of numbers of soldiers or their training, to provide assistance. The military, because of deployments or other engagements, may simply lack the surge capability to provide support. This is likely to increasingly be the case, as both active and reserve forces decline in number in many European states.One final consideration is the issue of unique capability. As a general rule, the military should be asked to provide DSCA support only when the military has a unique capability—one that is not resident, in type or numbers, in other agencies. A typical example involves the provision of decontamination support. Most other agencies lack the military’s capability for decontaminating chemical or biological contamination; therefore, it may be appropriate to request military support in the event of such an incident, because no other agency can provide this support.It is, for example, by no means clear that cybersecurity is a unique capability of the armed forces. Many other actors, such as contractors, can provide such services. While the military may be very good at providing cybersecurity for its own assets (because it must be), it is not evident that the armed forces should provide such capabilities to other entities. Rather, the armed forces should focus on dealing with the consequences of addressing such attacks.Likewise, the armed forces should not, as a routine matter, provide border security. They can, and should, provide support to law enforcement entities who are principally charged with securing the border; but armed forces should be constrained to a support role only, and then only in exceptional circumstances, such as during the wave of refugees that attempted to enter Europe during the summer of 2015.But, given the increasing requirements for security both in the cyber and border realms, as well as many other domestic contingencies, it seems obvious that senior military leaders in Europe and North America may be increasingly willing to overlook some of these considerations. This is due to their desires to maintain military capacity, and senior political leaders may be unaware or prefer not to recognize some of these criteria.Nevertheless, it is important that a solid basis be established for those contingencies in which the military is likely to become involved, particularly with regard to legal constraints on employing soldiers at home. The criteria set forth in this article are designed to serve as guidelines for consideration by political and military leaders when contemplating if they should “just let the army do it.”John Clarke is a senior professor at the Marshall Center in Germany. He is a retired U.S. Army officer with over two decades of operational experience. He is also an Olmsted Scholar, a Senior Research Fellow of the nato Defense College, a graduate of the French Army War College, and holds a ph.d. from the University of Salzburg, Austria.Image: Reuters.
A teenage soldier who enlisted to honour his brother who was killed in Afghanistan has received an award for best recruit on his army course. Private Fin Doherty was six in 2008, the year his brother JJ died while serving with the Parachute Regiment when his patrol was ambushed by the Taliban in Helmand province. This month Fin, 17, saw his ambition to follow his brother's path to become a paratrooper advance apace when he passed out of the army foundation college in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and received his maroon beret. Private Doherty spoke to the BBC last year about his motivation for joining up. “I couldn't think of a better job than doing something that I think matters, especially for
CAIRO (AP) — Sudan's pro-democracy movement signed a final power-sharing agreement with the ruling military council on Saturday at a ceremony in the capital, Khartoum. The deal paves the way for a transition to civilian-led government following the military overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April. The signing capped weeks of tortuous negotiations between the military and protest leaders. Earlier this month, the two sides initialed a constitutional document in the wake of international pressure and amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite civil war. Ethiopia and the African Union co-led mediation efforts between the military and protesters, and many regional leaders and international
Four Nigerian troops were killed Sunday in an ambush by fighters suspected to be from an IS-affiliated jihadist faction in the country's restive northeast, two military sources said. Attackers believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province group opened fire on a military patrol in Mogula village close to the border with Cameroon, killing four soldiers and seizing two machine guns, one of the military officers said. “Our troops came under attack by ISWAP terrorists in Mogula in an ambush in which we lost four soldiers,” the first source said. “The attack happened around 11:00 hours when the team was on routine patrol in the area,” the officer said. The second officer gave the same
In a recent article, the staff at Stratfor Worldview noted how the unwillingness and/or inability of allies to work with the U.S. to address regional security concerns ultimately limits the ability of America to meet new challenges. In early 2018, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis made the case that a period of “long-term strategic competition” now existed with other major powers given the rise of China and the re-emergence of Russia during a time marked by “rapid technological change, challenges from adversaries in every operating domain, and the impact on current readiness from the longest continuous stretch of armed conflict in our history.” During the Cold War, the U.S. was chiefly
The defense industrial base is at risk of losing another industrial partner, potentially leaving the submarine missile-tube sector with only a single producer. BWX Technologies is threatening to reallocate its industrial capacity to other programs. Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, the company is facing difficulties meeting the exacting specifications necessary and lacks the certainty of future missile-tube orders. The loss of BWX, a company that produces the tubes for Columbia- and Virginia-class submarines, from the tube-making business would deliver a consequential blow to the stability of those Navy programs and to the health of the military industrial base overall. The fragility of the defense
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — The Army is seeking to make a 10-year-old crash program permanent to prepare Fort Carson chopper pilots for combat in Afghanistan by training in high terrain owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Since its interim approval in 2010, the program has used mountain landing sites in El Paso, Park, Teller and Fremont counties to train helicopter crews before they head overseas. “We believe that both the Army and BLM have failed to recognize and appreciate the existence of our rural residential community and the adverse impacts to be reasonably anticipated from the long-term, low-altitude overflights of military helicopters en route to their various exercise landing zones,” wrote one homeowners association in western Fremont County.
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Former Air Force and Navy fighter pilots are calling on the military to begin cancer screenings for aviators as young as 30 because of an increase in deaths from the disease that they suspect may be tied to radiation emitted in the cockpit. “We are dropping like flies in our 50s from aggressive cancers,” said retired Air Force Col. Eric Nelson, a former F-15E Strike Eagle weapons officer. Nelson's prostate cancer was first detected at age 48, just three months after he retired from the Air Force. In his career he has more than 2,600 flying hours, including commanding the 455th Air Expeditionary Group in Bagram, Afghanistan, and as commander of six squadrons of F-15E fighter jets at the 4th Operations Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
North Korea also has a large but nearly completely obsolete air force. The only aircraft Pyongyang possesses that might marginally threaten American airpower are its small fleet of Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums. “They supposedly have up to 40 MiG-29s, but I’m not sure how many of them are still airworthy but some surely are,” Kashin said. “Pilot training is limited and never exceeds 20 flight hours per year.”If the Trump Administration chooses to intervene in North Korea, the White House may discover that Pyongyang is a more formidable adversary than many might expect.Aside from the reclusive regime’s nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-un’s hermit kingdom boasts air defenses that are more advanced than many might realize. Moreover, Pyongyang has also taken steps to increase its resilience against any aerial onslaught that that United States might launch in the event of war. The so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has not forgotten the lessons of the Korean War–which technically has not yet ended.(This first appeared last year.)“Between 1950 and 1953, the U.S. Air Force and Navy flattened North Korea, so the NORKS have had 65 years to think about how to make sure that does not happen again and dig lots of bomb proof shelters and tunnels,” retired Rear Adm. Mike McDevitt, a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses, told The National Interest.But aside from hardening its facilities, Pyongyang fields more advanced air defenses than one might assume. While the overwhelming majority of North Korean air defenses are older Soviet systems, Pyongyang does field some surprisingly capable indigenous weapons.“They have a mix of old Soviet SAMs [surface-to-air missiles], including the S-75, S-125, S-200 and Kvadrat, which are likely in more or less good condition,” Vasily Kashin, a senior fellow at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics told The National Interest. “They used to produce the S-75 themselves—and those could have received some significant upgrades. In addition to them, since early the 2010s they are fielding an indigenous modern SAM system which is called KN-06 by South Korea and the U.S.”It is not clear how many KN-06 SAM batteries Pyongyang has built, but the North Korean weapon is a surprisingly capable system that is similar to early model versions of the Russian-built S-300. “No one knows exactly how many such systems exist,” Kashin said. “The KN-06 has phased array radar and tracks via missile guidance system and maybe equivalent to the early S-300P versions but with greater range.”Kashin—who is a specialist on Asian matters—said that South Koreans sources have written that the KN-06 has been successfully tested. The weapon is thought to have a range of up to 150 km. One of the reasons that the KN-06 is often ignored—even though information is available about the North Korean weapon—is that Western analysts often underestimate Pyongyang’s industrial capabilities.“Generally, there is a great underestimation of North Korean industrial capabilities in the world,” Kashin said. “From what I know, they do produce some computerized machine tools and industrial robotics, fiber-optics, some semiconductors as well as a variety of trucks and cars, railroad rolling stock, consumer electronics etc. So they can do something comparable to Soviet designs of the 1970s to early 80s—especially when they cooperate with the Iranians.”North Korean low altitude air defenses are also fairly robust—even if the systems that Pyongyang fields are dated. “At low altitudes, they have huge numbers of license produced and indigenous MANPADs [man-portable air defenses] and 23-57mm anti-aircraft artillery—many thousands of pieces,” Kashin said.North Korea also has a large but nearly completely obsolete air force. The only aircraft Pyongyang possesses that might marginally threaten American airpower are its small fleet of Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums. “They supposedly have up to 40 MiG-29s, but I’m not sure how many of them are still airworthy but some surely are,” Kashin said. “Pilot training is limited and never exceeds 20 flight hours per year.”However, while North Korean technology is relatively primitive—the nation’s air defenses are coordinated. “They do have an old Soviet computerized anti-aircraft command and control system. Most of the radars are old, but they did receive some newer Iranian phased array radars,” Kashin said. “This is what I know, the anti-aircraft units are extensively using underground shelters for cover—not easy to destroy.”Thus, while generally primitive, North Korean defenses might be a tougher nut to crack than many might expect. Moreover, while their technology is old, North Korea’s philosophy of self-reliance means it can produce most of its own military hardware. “They produce a lot of stuff, although in many cases the technology would lag some 20 to 40 years behind,” Kashin said. “But they do produce it independently.”Dave Majumdar is the former defense editor for The National Interest.